Back when he was a toddler, I blogged about Chopper’s Gymnastics Club – The cramped viewing space parents were herded into, wobbly plastic chairs squashed together, Antarctic conditions, and a miniscule peephole window where mums mounted each other to get a view.
Now at 5 years old, they’ve migrated him to the actual gym with real equipment and an observation deck, so we can luxuriously spread both bum cheeks onto one seat and have a coffee without scalding another parent on the back.
He LOVES gymnastics, he has done since being 2 years old. What’s not to love? Monkey bars to swing from, blow up bouncy runners to cart-wheel on, springboards to launch yourself at pace, and a balance beam to teeter along, with the added danger of plunging off into a sea of deadly sharks/crash mat. Everything an adventurous kid wants on a Sunday morning.
At this age, they’re progressing through certificates and badges, doing proper balances and carefully measured movements (with “good toes not bad toes”), rather than just lolloping around aimlessly like in kinder gym. The girls are making beautifully smooth shapes and contorting themselves into bendy bridges, eye-watering splits and doubled-over pike positions.
Only….Chopper isn’t. He is mainly still lolloping. Definitely lolloping.
I’m in a difficult parent dilemma.
- I love Chopper
- Chopper loves gymnastics
- Chopper lollops
- I pay £75 for a block of gymnastics classes
- I want to stop gymnastics
There, I said it….
I take him religiously every week and watch him charge around doing his own thing and navigating any obstacle that isn’t on the class agenda. Don’t get me wrong, he can listen to instructions, and he is usually (!) a well-behaved little boy, but the lure of the majestic equipment seems to be too much temptation….and he starts to stray off-piste.
He’ll add in all sorts of wild jumps and frenzied flamenco style dancing at the end of each movement, much to the amusement and quite frankly, confusion of the other kids. Rather than landing with “legs together and arms straight children!”, he’ll strike up an air guitar on dismount, and then nod a cheeky wink over towards the parent gallery.
I, meanwhile, am mee-mawing at him from the viewing gallery. (*Definition Mee-mawing – charades from afar, typically characterised by muted but highly animated miming, designed to communicate with child secretly in public without any sound or anyone else noticing).
- “Listen to the teacher!” (Cup Earlobe)
- “Watch!” (Tap finger in repeated motion on your eye, then point ferociously to teacher).
- “Stop messing!” – (Stern face, finger wagging side to side)
Things took a sinister turn a few weeks ago. I have realised that the gymnastic teacher pretty much hates Chopper. She used to tolerate the clowning around, and at one point, I think she found him amusing, maybe even endearing. Now, 3 years on, he’s just a royal pain in the ass.
To be honest, the teachers do seem a bit stern and lacking of humour, but I guess that’s gymnastics, and it’s all about the discipline – plus she probably has a potential future Olympian in this class, and then she has Chopper roly-polying on a 360 loop whilst she’s trying to demonstrate a tuck jump.
She used to hide her disdain quite well, but in the class this week, I saw a definite stare that made me realise she probably dreams of drop-kicking him off the beam.
She has that singy-songy voice that a lot of teachers have, but when she talks to Chopper, it’s tinged with a definite sharpness…..she’s probably contemplating whether I can hear her or not, and if she can legitimately tell him to put a sock in it – without getting sacked.
It’s a tough call. I kind of want him to stop before the teacher internally combusts, and I know he isn’t ever going to make it to the heady heights of the World Championships, (sorry Chopper), but do we take kids to sports clubs just so they can be professionals? Of course not! We take them because it’s what you do. For me, the important thing is, he enjoys it.
So I reluctantly pay each block of classes, then every now and again ask him if he is still enjoying it. To which he replies “yes!” enthusiastically, whilst trying to attempt an arabesque…..then toppling over.
So, we press ahead. As we parents do.
And now I have seen this new-found irritation in the teacher, it’s strangely entertaining watching the turn of events every week, it’s like a whole other sport… will she, won’t she lose the plot.
I think she’s on the ropes.